Wayanad

 Impulsive trips to Wayanad are a lot more exiting. A drive in Wayand on a foggy and chilly morning is a memorable experience. Image of Wayanad HillsThe hilly tourism destination is located in the north-eastern region of Kerala. Apart from numerous nature based tourist attractions such as Meenmutty Falls, Pookode Lake, Kuruva Island, Chembra Peak, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary etc, there are unique heritage attractions like Edakkal Caves and Ambalavayal Heritage Museum. Visitors can opt to stay tin tree huts for a unique experiences.

Windblown and lashed by rain, Wayanad lies across 2,126 sq km of the lofty Western Ghats and has been recognized as a bio diverse region. Located on the southern tip of the Deccan Plateau, at an altitude ranging from 700 to 2,100 m above sea level, Wayanad encompasses sub – tropical savannah, thickly wooded hills and evergreen forests. While verdant spice plantations cover the hills, the valleys in the area consist of gently rolling paddy fields.

A land where the rain, rocks and trees reign supreme, Wayanad’s history is as striking as its terrain. Historians believe that organized human life existed here from as early as 4,000 BC when Mesolithic culture first began in Kerala. The caves and rock carvings of Ambukuthimala provide proof of this. Roads winding up rugged hillside, a legacy of the British, are the only mode of transport in the region.Pepper, cardamom and ginger grow extensively surrounded by vast plantations of tea and coffee.A typical Malabari breakfast and Sulaimani is the best thing one can have in Wayanad.

 

For details of Wayanad District , see the web page http://halokerala.com/picnic-spots/wayanad/

VYTHIRI

Vyhiri stands as a gateway to Wayanad, to the realm of gurgling streams, hills and valleys.Lakes, gorges and ravines, verdant hills that nudge distant clouds, dreamy dawns and misty evenings are standard fare.

This region offers a true taste of Wayanad.The charming Pookot Lake is only a kilometer away, towards Lakkidi.The tallest summit in the district, Chembra Peak, 6,890 ft above sea level, is nearest from Vythiri.Waterfalls, at Kanthampara and Sentinel Rock, lie to the south. A number of resorts, nestled in sylvan surroundings, add to the attraction of the destination.

SIGHTS

Lakkidi’s Chain Tree

LakkidiApart from the stunning views of the surrounding plains, Lakkidi’s other claim to fame is the chain tree. Local lore has it that when a British engineer was unsuccessful in his efforts to find a passage through the dense forests of Wayanad,a  young tribal called Karinthandan guided him. Unwilling to share credit for the discovery, the engineer killed the native. Soon, Karinthandan’s troubled spirit began haunting travelers on the new route. To pacify the vengeful soul, priest chained the spirit to a tree. Only then did the haunting cease. A heavy chain anchored to the ground and placed around the stout branches seems to lend credence to the story.

Lakkidi is the gateway of Wayanad as it is located at the crest of the serpentine Thamarasherry ghat pass. It gets the second highest rainfall and also commands picturesque scenery.

Due to heavy ranfall, the place is known as the Chirapunjee of Kerala. The lofty mountains, the gurgling stream, luxuriant vegetation and the bird’s eye view of the deep valley with its winding road are breath taking. The 12 km long journey from Adivaram to Lakkidi through ghat road with nine hair pin bends amidst the thick forest is a fascinating experience.

LakkidiSurrounded on all sides by meadows and hills, it is one of the richest biodiversity rich territories in India and a favorite picnic spot. There is an interesting tale about this passage, which dates back to the British rule; Lakkidi was a secret route for the adivasis of Wayanad.Later the Britishers indentified the route.

In fact, the Britishers have asked the tribes to find the route to export spices. The tribal people helped them. Through the secret route they made a small way. Once British found out the way, they killed the tribals.Later it was found that the travelers who passed by the routes never reached their destination. It was believed that the spirits of the tribal who were brutally killed were haunting the travelers. Hence a priest was called and he chained the spirits of all the tribal people killed in the massacre and tied then in a small tree. Every year, a festival is conducted on the roadside temple along the passage.

Pookot Lake

This large lake is fringed by low wooded hills. Horses and horse carts trot along the 1.5 lm pathway, passing around the lake. A curio shop next to the ticket counter sells bamboo and wooden artifacts and hill produce such as spices, tea and honey. Then there is the boat club where pedal and rowboats await visitors.

Soochipara and Kanthampara Falls

From Vythiri, the drive to these falls, considered one of the most beautiful in the district, is delightful. A winding road through verdant tea country, and then a narrow trail through rugged terrain lead to the falls in a dense forest. The three pronged waters hit the sharp spikes of granite at the base, hence the name,’Soochipara’, or ‘needle rocks’.

Meenmutty Falls

Meenmutty WaterfallMeenmutty Falls, a 300 m long cascade of water, is the largest and most spectacular waterfall in the whole of Wayanad.The drive from Vythiri itself is charming – all woods, verdant hillsides and rolling planataions.It will also take you past charming villages such as Chundel, Meppadi and Vaduvanchal.

Meenmutty waterfall is one of the best waterfalls in Wayanad.The gorgeous waterfall is located 29 km from Kalpetta.Meenmutty means where the fish are blocked. It is a combination of two Meen (fish) and Mutty) (blocked).

Meenmutty is considered to be one of the magnificent waterfalls. To catch an amazing view of the fall means a 2 km hike through the jungle from the main road. The sight of the three tiered waterfall, falling from a height of 300 meters, is an unforgettable on e after a 2 – 3 km trek through a moist ,deciduous forest. The path is really dangerous and tiring, but where it takes you to is worth the effort. The mind blowing sight of gushing waters is splendid I its lush green setting. Many caves can be seen on the way to the falls where carvings dating back to the Neolithic age can be spotted.

Officials explain details about the carvings. On the ceiling of one of the caves is an amazing sight of a trapped rock with sunlight streaming in from all sides. This rock is called Edakkal, which means the rock in between. The picturesque locations on the way to the falls calls for a camera top capture the scenic sights.

SULTHAN BATHERY

Pre – historic caves, luxuriant vegetation, undulating hills, meandering rivers, and jungle trails invite you to explore the peaceful hill town of Sulthan Bethery.

‘Bathery’ is a corruption of the word ‘battery’, and the name has stuck ever since Tipu Sultan, the town’s one time ruler,dumped his ammunition in the old Jain temple here. Known as ‘Ganapathivattam’ until then, the Sultan left another enduring legacy of his exploits in the town of Sulthan Bathery. Chethalayam Falls is one of Wayanad’s lesser known seasonal waterfalls. Though it tends to dry up during summer, it is a lovely place to visit and trekking enthusiasts will have an enjoyable time climbing up the rocks to the waterfall.

SIGHT

Jain Temple

This 13thcentury temple, built in the architectural style of the reigning Vijayanagar dynasty ,has had a rather chequered past-it served as a shrine, then as a centre of commercial trade, and finally, as the ammunition store or battery for Tipu Sultan’s army.It is one of the most important of the Jain ruins in Kerala. The monument testifies to a period of strong Jain presence in the region. It served as a Hindu shrine, an important centre for commercial activity and eventually as a battery (ammunition store) for Tipu Sultan’s armies.

Edakkal Caves

Located 12 km from Sulthan Bathery, these prehistoric shelters are made of natural rock formations. The discovery of the caves is attributed to one Fred Fawcett, the then Superintendent of Police, who had come on a hunting trip to Wayanad in 1890.The climb to the cave is fairly steep and can be challenging at times.

Wayanad Heritage Museum

Innumerable artifacts and stone relics discovered by anthropologists in the region around Bathery, Ambalavayal and the forests of Wayanad are housed in the Wayanad Heritage Museum.

KALPETTA

This small trading town doubles as the headquarters of Wayanad district. Verdant peaks, trekking trails, waterfalls and lakes make it a haven for nature lovers.However, in the heart of town, shops and commercial establishments jostle for space.

Cofffee, banana, pepper, ginger and other spices find their way out of the district through Kalpetta’s many bazaars Government offices, trade and commerce, and of late, tourists, gives this town a lively purposeful air.

A stronghold of Jainism for a long time, the glass temple of Kottamunda and the Anantha Krishna Puram Jain temple are reminders of this early heritage.

SIGHTS

Chembra Peak

At 2,100 m, this peak is the highest in Wayanad. The summit offers spectacular views of the surrounding hills, rocks and valleys. Despite a tricky ascent, the peak draws trekking enthusiasts in hordes.

Karalad Lake

A huge lake, spread across 7 acres and surrounded by dense bamboo groves, it is ideal for a peaceful, quiet break. Adjoining hills provide great trekking options. The Banasura Sagar Dam is only about 3 km to the north from the Karalad Lake.

Banasura Sagar Dam

Banasura Sagar Dam,WayanadAn ideal picnic spot with a breathtaking view is an apt definition for Banasura Sagar Dam, the largest earthen dam in India and the second largest in Asia. The dam, built across the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River, is a part of Indian Banasura Sagar Project, which consists of a dam and canal project started in 1979.The goal of the project is to provide adequate irrigation and drinking water to a region known to have water shortage during summer.

Situated about 17 km from Kalpetta, the dam holds a large expanse of water and its picturesque beauty is enhanced by the chain of mountain called Banasura Hills in the background. The dam is made up of massive stack of stones and boulders. Legend has it that Asura king of Banasura (the son of King Mahabali) undertook a severe penance over the top of the hills and thus it was named after him. The Banasura Hill Resort, located about 20 kilometers away from the dam, is an example of earthen architecture.

In the dam’s reservoir, there is a set of islands that were formed when the reservoir submerged the surrounding area. During monsoon, the visitors can get a view of the islands. The dam has become a major tourist attraction in Wayanad and is an ideal starting point for trekking .Visitors can go skimming in the crystal clear waters of Banasura Lake in a speed boat, which is an exhilarating experience.

MANANTHAVADY

This township, despite its bustle, is surrounded by peaceful wilderness. Rather isolated from the other towns located on NH 212, Mananthavady has its own distinctive allure.

Mananthavady is the base for Pakshipathalam, a boulder – strewn area in the forests of the Bramhagiri hills, ideal for trekking and watching birds. The enchanting Kuruva Dweep Island and the Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary are close by.

This town has close links to the history of Wayanad as well. The Pazhassi tomb, a kilometer from Mananthavady, marks the place where the body of the fiery warrior, the Pazhassi Raja, was cremated after his defeat at the hands of the British.

SIGHTS

Thirunelly Temple

Thirunelly Temple.literally,’the temple with the sacred gooseberry 9nelli) tree’, is located in a valley surrounded by south Bramhagiri peaks. Myth relates this shrine to the Hindu gods, Bhrahma and Vishnu. The surrounding peaks are a trekker’s delight.

Pakshipathalam

During their wanderings, saints and god men are believed to have taken shelter in the numerous caves and rocky hillocks strewn across this area.However, today Pakshipathalam is the haven for a large avian colony – mainly around the natural rock caves. It draws avid trekkers and birdwatchers during the summer months.

Thrissileri Temple

This architecturally pleasing Shiva Temple, with its antiquity shrouded in the distant past, is so inextricably linked to the Thirunelly Temple that the performance of rites at the latter shrine remains incomplete until it is followed by offerings at Thrissileri.

Pazhaassi Museum

When Tipu Sultan ceded Malabar to the British, the Pazhassi Raja, scion of the Kottayam royal family, was the first to revolt. Forced to flee into the jungles of Wayanad, he engaged the British on guerrilla warfare. Finally defeated in the jungles of Mavilamthode near Pulpally, a tomb marks the spot where he was cremated. The small structure nearby houses a collection of memorabilia.

Kuruva Dweep

Kuruva IslandsTwo streams, the Panamaram,originating from Lakkidi, and the Mananthavady rivulet, originating from the Thondaramudi peak, wind around a 950 acre wooded island nestled amidst sylvan surroundings s called Karuva Dweep.DTPC operates bamboo raft rides from Pulpally.The heavily wooded environs provide a home to a variety of birds and butterflies.

Kuruva Island, also known as Kuruvadweep, is synonymous with calmness. The Kuruva Islands is a group of three islands located in the middle of one of the tributaries of Kabini River in Wayand.Surrounded by vast stretches of evergreen forests, it provides a great gateway.
Kuruva is situated 17 kms from Manathavady.This 950 acre tract of uninhabited area is home to many rare birds, herbs and trees. Its unique geographical characteristics make it a favorite place for nature lovers.The silence in the island is the most attractive feature and one can have a good time away from the hustle and bustle of city live to rejuvenate one’s mind and soul. Bridges make of bamboo and rare species of trees make this island unique.

The major recreational activities that can be indulges in this island is a lazy, relaxing walk through the shoreline of the river. The islands surrounded by streams and rivers can be accessed using rafts or fiber boats run by Kerala Tourism Department.

Recently, the place was identified as the most visited place in the district by the tourists around the globe. During the monsoon when there is a frequency of elephants and other animals, obtaining prior permission from the Forest department to visit the place is mandatory.

Getting There 

By Air: The nearest to Kalpetta is Kozhikode (Calicut) Interantional Airport at Karipur, Kozhikode, 88 km away. 

By Rail: The nearest station is at Kozhikode, 63 km away 

By Road: Wayanad is on NH 212 that connects Kozhikode to Mysore. Buses from Kozhikode bus stand go through Vythiri to the nearest KSRTC stand in Kalpetta.

Where to stay

For details of hotels and resorts in Kollam,see accommodation listing on http://halokerala.com/hotels/wayanad/

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Published on 23/10/2014

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